In our last blog on the subject of the disposal of our much loved North Kensington Library (entitled Smoke and Mirrors- RBKC and NHPS) published on 27th September 2016 we highlighted our belief that the top two floors of the new municipal building in Lancaster Road will be designated as classroom space and rented out to either Notting Hill Prep School or to their local rival in private education, Chepstow House.
The Grenfell Action Group make it our business never to deal in rumour and everything that we blog is carefully sourced to ensure it is based entirely on authoritative information. Therefore, the assertion that we have made regarding our belief that the RBKC are using public money to provide educational space for private education comes not from mere rumour, or a will to paint the Council and the Prep school in a bad light, but from facts that we secured using the Freedom of Information Act in Feburary of this year.
The documents that we obtained at that time show very clearly that there had been private conversations between Notting Hill Prep School and RBKC dating back to September 2014 regarding the future use of the space being created above the new library and youth centre that would also include the access to a mutli-use games area. At the time we published this information in a blog entitled “What future for North Kensington Library”:
The documents that we obtained using the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a private meeting was held between the Council and Notting Hill Prep School attended by senior managers at the RBKC and Mark Nelson Smith and John Mackay who were representing Notting Hill Prep School as we have shown below:
NORTH KENSINGTON LIBRARY AND YOUTH CENTRE SITE
Summary notes of meeting held at RBKC Offices on 17th September 2014
Attending: Richard Egan: Head of Investment and Development RBKC Danielle Torpey: Senior Development Surveyor RBKC Guy Parks: Project Manager, Capital Projects RBKC Freddie Murray: Asset Management, RBKC Martin Mortimer: Senior Development Surveyor RBKC John Mackay: Co Chair Notting Hill Prep School Mark Nelson Smith : Finance Director Notting Hill Prep School Caroline Armstrong : Bursar Notting Hill Prep School Andrew Hanson: Hanson Architects ( NHPS) Stephen Hodgen: Hanson Architects ( NHPS)
“NHPS confirmed that they are interested in securing additional accommodation in the existing North Kensington Library and also in the new building which is proposed to accommodate both a new Library and a replacement Youth Centre. This would be on the basis of a long term lease of circa 25 years with rent reviews on an RPI adjusted basis……….NHPS indicated that they would be prepared to enter into an Agreement to Lease for both the existing North Kensington Library building and also for the new accommodation to be developed”.
The Grenfell Action Group, therefore, find it extraordinary that when we attended a Factual Briefing concerning the plans for the proposed new library building at the Small Hall in Hornton Street on the 18th October the Council denied that they had entered into any discussions with third parties regarding the future use of the new space that will be created above the new library and youth centre.
The Project Manager at RBKC, Helen Edmondson, was asked directly on three occasions by members of the public whether there had been any talks between Notting Hill Prep School and the Council about future use of the new built space. On three occasions Ms Edmondson categorically stated to those attending the briefing that there had been no such talks and that this space would be put out to public tender.
The Grenfell Action Group believe that the notes of the meeting between Notting Hill Prep and the Council on 17th September clearly show that the Project Manager was either lying to those present at the briefing or that she had not done her homework correctly. We believe that the class room space in the new municipal centre was always intended for the Notting Hill Prep School and only became unattractive to them when they realised that they could gain access and spread their tentacles into the nearby Westway Information Centre. It is the belief of the Grenfell Action Group that the space above the library and youth centre is still destined for private educational use with Notting Hill Prep School’s rivals, Chepstow House, the most likely beneficiaries of the RBKC’s largess in providing private educational space with our public money! Only time will tell!